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2 Shipyards to Pay $410K in EPA Suit

Friday, January 14, 2011

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Promet Marine Services

Two New England shipyards will pay a total of $410,000 in penalties to settle claims by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that they violated federal environmental laws.

Rose’s Oil Service, a shipyard and fuel oil distributor in Gloucester, MA, will pay $130,000 to resolve claims that it violated federal water and oil pollution prevention laws.

EPA says the company discharged pressure-wash water and stormwater without authorization under the Clean Water Act. It also failed to prepare a Facility Response Plan and adequate Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure Plan in violation of federal oil pollution regulations, EPA said.

Owner Decries ‘Lack of Outreach’

Company owner Frank Rose said that the citations related to recent stormwater and boat-wash run-off, treatment and disposal rules that he had not known about.

The company builds and repairs vessels and performs pressure washing, sanding, painting, metal working, welding and machining. Rose Marine, a companion firm at the same address, provides marine maintenance and repair service.

“Literally at one point in time, it became illegal for oil to run across our property,” Rose said in an interview Friday. “Now, ignorance of the law is no excuse. On the other hand, it would have been nice at one point to receive a memo, to receive an initial visit saying, ‘Hey Mr. Rose, this is what you need to do [to comply now].’”

He criticized EPA for “lack of outreach” and “lack of resources” to communicate new standards and requirements to business owners.

Surprise Inspection

He said his longtime business consultant had been unaware of the rules and so were a number of colleagues. He learned of the requirements only after a surprise inspection in November 2008.

“I called 12 people in the industry, and only three knew about it—and they’d all been visited by EPA.”

He added: “Some of it breaks down to a different interpretation [of rules] with the EPA. And the EPA is never wrong.”

Rose said he supported strong environmental laws and, in fact, had already purchased the required equipment when he was inspected, but had been waiting for his winter slowdown to install it. And EPA confirms that the company “promptly” came into complete compliance after the initial visit.

$200K+ in Costs

In addition to the $130,000 fine, Rose said he had spent more than $200,000 on the case in the last two years. He managed, he said, not to lay off any of his 37 employees during that time.

Meanwhile, he said, many competitors remain out of compliance on the same rules, leading him to question EPA’s manner of enforcement. Spot enforcement puts him at a competitive disadvantage, he said, because he now needs to charge more to cover his compliance costs.

“It’s not a big problem doing things differently,” he said. “But you need to be told. It should be more of a helping-type situation. It’s a very negative way to do business. It’s worse than unbelievably draining.

“It was a kick in the pants when rainwater became a violation.”

Paint Violations

Promet Marine Services, of Providence, RI, will pay $290,000 to settle claims that it violated federal clean air and clean water laws. The company provides pressure washing, painting, abrasive blasting and other marine services. According to EPA, Promet’s use of paints exceeded Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) and Hazardous Air Pollutant (HAP) limits of the Clean Air Act.

Joel H. Cohen, Promet Marine Services vice president, said the company would have no comment on the case.

Promet violated the Clean Water Act through the unauthorized discharge of contaminated pressure-wash water into the Providence River, where the shipyard has a 1,000-foot frontage, EPA said. In addition, it said, paint used by Promet emitted excess levels of HAPs and VOCs.

“Facilities that repair and maintain marine vessels have the potential for a number of harmful impacts to human health and the environment,” Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office, said in a prepared statement.

Promet is now using paints that comply with regulatory limits, has applied for required air permits, and has a process water recycling system at its facility to eliminate illegal discharges of copper, lead, zinc and solids in pressure wash water, EPA said.

“It’s very important that facilities understand and follow measures designed to protect the health of our citizens and the environment that sustains us,” Spalding said. “I am pleased these companies have now taken a number of actions to improve their environmental compliance.”


Tagged categories: EPA; Marine; Marine Coatings; Violations

Comment from DANIEL COSTANTINI, (1/17/2011, 10:34 AM)

I don't believe it was blatant. This is a small operation in an area in need of jobs. Slap him on the wrist and continue to monitor him. That is a difficult settlement for a small business.

Comment from Daniel Morenings, (1/17/2011, 10:50 AM)

What it boils down to is that the EPA is a legalized form of shakedown. They spot enforce, leaving those that they stomp at an economic disadvantage in the marketplace. And in these economic times where many jobs are bid so close to compete with the non-conforming companies, it is easy to have the EPA put you out of business. Nothing like fining you for rules that they made without anyones knowledge, and without any notification to those that they affect. But that is the way our gooberment "helps" small businesses, and rakes millions into the slush funds that go where?

Comment from Jerry LeCompte, (1/17/2011, 11:25 AM)

The EPA and OSHA are only two 007 (licensed to kill jobs) bureaucracies, and they are doing a great job (no pun intended). But then again, they have no one to answer to.

Comment from David Johnson, (1/17/2011, 12:18 PM)

The EPA is a self-funded organization. They pay for their operations by doing what they did here. I have a suggestion for the EPA. Somewhere on the books is probably a law that says "any product manufactured in non-compliance with EPA regulations is subject to tax or will be confiscated." Then pull up to a local Wal-Mart and generate all the fines you need for a lifetime.

Comment from Car F., (1/18/2011, 11:00 AM)

I agree. Let's keep poisoning our water, air and land in order to keep our jobs. We'll be poisoned, but at least employed.

Comment from Daniel Morenings, (1/18/2011, 1:08 PM)

Oh please, Car, get real. What we are talking about is a gooberment that passes laws so we can then study what is in the laws we just passed. When you make rules and laws in private, without input from the industries you are attempting to rule, and you don't make people aware of those laws, how can you hold them financially responsible for breaking the laws? After all, there were over 250,000 new laws passed just last year. And tell me this: How does storm water run-off poison anyone? It's rain for Pete's sake. But now they have to control it or face the fines? Please, give me a break. Not everyone is interested in poisoning you.

Comment from James Johnson, (1/18/2011, 4:30 PM)

I believe these acts are unconstitutional. Article 1, Section 1 of the Constitution states that all legislation shall come from Congress. Nowhere does it give Congress the right to delegate legislative authority to any agency. Call your Senators and Representative and tell them it is time that agencies stop making law. If enough of us do that, they will be pressured to address the problem. Actually, the fines paid, plus a donation or two from the rest of us, could probably have won that battle in the Supreme Court.

Comment from Daniel Morenings, (1/18/2011, 7:34 PM)

James, you ever fought with the government? Wanna see how fast they can freeze/seize every asset you have, and close you down? By the time you get your day in court, years have gone by. And of course, the gooberment is never at fault. We the people have had our rights stripped by Congress, and in turn, they have turned those rights over the the "Czars" that now run America.

Comment from Jerry LeCompte, (1/19/2011, 9:04 AM)

Jim and Dan, you guys are right on. We are now getting a taste of how our forefathers were feeling BEFORE they wrote the Constitution.

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